So there I was on Sunday evening, relaxing and watching a little TV with my husband, when this commercial comes on:
At the beginning of the commercial, there’s no indication of what exactly this is an ad for. Based on the setup, I thought this guy was taking a busful of children to a forest someplace, where, although they didn’t know it yet, they would learn about how wonderful nature is and it would be the best field trip ever. I believed him. I got a little excited for the heartwarming goodness that was sure to follow.
And then they went to Toys R Us. Cue scenes of running up and down the aisles in a frenzy of joyous commercialism. I was furious and horrified, and I obviously still can’t stop thinking about it.
Raz Godelnik, who wrote about this commercial for TriplePundit.com, agrees with me:
I find this ad irritating because it tries to communicate a message that is inherently unsustainable to both children and their parents. To children it says that true happiness lies in buying new toys and the subtext is that their wishes should be focused on asking their parents for new toys. To parents, it says that if they want to make their children happy they should buy them toys because this is what they wish for. This ad perpetuates everything that is wrong with the current unsustainable economy – from the notion that more stuff means more happiness to the idea that the holidays are about shopping to the idea that learning about and interacting with the environment is tedious and unimportant. I was even more irritated that this ad portrays a field trip to the forest as a boring experience for children that has nothing to do with fun or joy.
Here’s the thing, Toys R Us. Forests are way, way more fun than whatever you’ve got. Forests are fun for everyone, and if kids start liking forests when they’re kids, they can keep on liking forests for their whole lives, unlike Barbies and Elmos and whatever else you’re showing in this commercial that I refuse to rewatch and break my heart over again. Forests are not just about “what kind of leaf is this, oh it’s not an oak it’s a maple”. Forests are about growing and listening and being quiet, and forests let you learn about something much larger than yourself. My one-year-old knows that outside is way better than inside, and I’m going to do everything I can to help her keep that worldview.